We met Americana duo Rosso at the British Country Music Festival recently, and like many of the festival goers, we were captivated by their beautiful harmonies and gorgeous sound. Here, they tell us about how they formed, the benefits of online gigging, working with Tim Prottey-Jones, and how the experience of playing at BCMF was for them.
Would you like to introduce yourself to our readers by telling us a bit about yourselves and where you’re from?
We are ROSSO but our actual names are Em & Fi. Em is from Exmouth and Fi is from Hereford and we met in 2016 when we started studying music in Coventry at Nexus ICA. We have lived together from our first year to now and became unlikely best friends along the way, but, it’s only in the last 2 years that we have been known as ROSSO. We now live in a little village in Warwickshire, the countryside called us back!
ROSSO all started when we had a 3rd year performance project and it was then that we discovered we had a similar interest in country, folk and Americana (don’t know how it took us 3 years to find out) but it has slowly evolved from there!
When did you first become interested in music, and who were your musical influences growing up?
Both of us have always loved music growing up, I (Em) started to play guitar around the age of 10 because my mum played and I wanted to be like her, so I sat down and flipped through a chord chart book for hours and fell in love with it, haven’t stopped since! Fi’s family are very musical, her parents & Grandparents have been in various country bands including Coopers Country, The Dingle Danglers and most recently Hope Country Gospel Band. Fi’s Dad has even played at the Grand Ole Opry! So music has always been part of our DNA. Both of us have very similar musical influences, we both of course loved all country music growing up but also rock bands such as Paramore were big influences in our teen years. This has actually had a big impact on our most recent sound especially with a full band with some of those rocky influences definitely creeping in on the new EP.
Could you tell us a bit about your journey as musicians so far?
We officially formed in February 2019 where we did a few local open mics and started songwriting together to see if we could write anything good! We think it’s so important to take loads of performance opportunities in the early days, we found it so helpful to find our sound, get feedback, meet other musicians, fail lots and succeed sometimes. We really appreciate and support the grassroots venues that give those opportunities to musicians starting out, it is so vital. Then in Summer 2019 we had a few slots at folk festivals and supported Scouting For Girls and Wildwood Kin. By then we knew it was time to get some music out into the the world so we released our first singles ‘Landing Light’ and ‘Good Lord Could’.
Then, of course, the dreaded Covid-19 pandemic put a stop to all our gigs and work that was lined up for 2020 but we tried to make the most of it by doing live streams, virtual Writers Rounds and then we wrote, recorded and produced our third single ‘You’ll Be Fine’. As well, during this time we partnered with Coventry City of Culture 2021 to release ‘Wilderness’, we were so lucky to be living together as these were all recorded for home so meant we still had opportunity to do those kind of things! With a few practises at remote recording and collaboration and with all live music still off the cards for 2020 and early 2021 we took the chance to record our full band EP, more about that in a minute. Then summer 2021 was so unexpected. We were expecting the world to still be shut but our first gig back was in the Coventry Cathedral Ruins, supporting The Libertines to a full capacity audience! It was madness! We have been on a high since then and even brought in an extra musician Dewi Thomas to be our percussionist and 2nd guitarist to help pad out our live sound. We love playing as a trio now!
You have just released the first single from your upcoming EP, called ‘Found’. Could you tell us a bit about the story behind the song?
After a gig one night in September 2019, we had loaded our kit into the car and then made the stupid decision to leave it in there unsupervised for about 30 minutes. Tragically the car was smashed into and guitar stolen! It was a devastating night and we decided to put in on social media and prayed many prayers that night but we didn’t have much hope of it returning. About 24 hour later I had an unknown caller ‘hey, I think I bought your guitar at the pub last night for £40, but i know its been stolen, so you can come and get it’. We couldn’t believe it. That never happens. So, I went and got my guitar back! Then we decided to write a song about that experience which is our latest release ‘Found’.
How excited are you to be working with Tim Prottey-Jones on your debut EP? How did the opportunity to work with him come about?
Anyone that knows Tim, knows he is an absolute gem. He is such a joy to work with, you can send him ramblings that make no sense, or voice messages of ideas you have and he makes it into a masterpiece. We had heard lots about Tim and his producing so we had him in the back of our mind and then he launched the UK Country Collective in lockdown which I got to play guitar for a few times. From that we knew he was the one! It proves how much we trust him because we met him for the first time at The British Country Music festival and the EP was signed off and finished way before that!
What has life been like in lockdown? What opportunities and challenges have you faced as independent musicians in particular?
When we were at The British Country Music Festival we discovered that a lot of our fans have actually discovered us because of lockdown. Through more online watching and us getting involved with Writers Rounds (notably DC Brown) people were able to find out who we are without needing to travel to a show. That was so encouraging to hear! And as I mentioned before, we discovered remote working does really work for us and we were lucky to be together through it all so we were able to jump on every opportunity. So, when I think about it now, there are so many positives that we managed to find. However, it did have a cost, we lost a lot of income and had to let a lot of dreams go, especially at the beginning this was so hard, we even spoke about it on the Victoria Derbyshire Show to express there needed to be more support for self employed and musicians. It seemed such a shame for something to stop our momentum when things were going well. But we are so glad things seem to be on the up again now.
You recently performed at the British Country Music Festival. How was that experience, and how has it felt being able to perform live again?
Phenomenal! Being able to meet so many people in really life was amazing, we met loads of people virtually over lockdown but meeting them in real life was so special! We made a weekend of it and stayed for it all and hearing incredible live music all day everyday was so good. Wildwood Kin were insane as always and hearing Tim Prottey-Jones with a full band was a real treat. We need to never take live music for granted again!
Finally, if you could pick one female Country/Folk/Americana artist to write a song with, who would it be and why?
Joy Williams, any day, all day. She is our biggest inspiration lyrically and musically, I really hope we can make that happen one day. Anyone who hasn’t sat and listened to her Front Porch album and all of her back catalogue, really should! So if you are reading Joy, hit us up!
Thank you so much for your time!
You can find ROSSO on all social media platforms @rossoduo